verb (used with object)

  1. to hold the attention of pleasantly or agreeably; divert; amuse.
  2. to have as a guest; provide food, lodging, etc., for; show hospitality to.
  3. to admit into the mind; consider: He never entertained such ideas.
  4. to hold in the mind; harbor; cherish: They secretly entertained thoughts of revenge.
  5. Archaic. to maintain or keep up.
  6. Obsolete. to give admittance or reception to; receive.

verb (used without object)

  1. to exercise hospitality; entertain company; provide entertainment for guests: They loved to talk, dance, and entertain.


  1. to provide amusement for (a person or audience)
  2. to show hospitality to (guests)
  3. (tr) to hold in the mindto entertain an idea

late 15c., “to keep up, maintain, to keep (someone) in a certain frame of mind,” from Middle French entretenir (12c.), from Old French entretenir “hold together, stick together, support,” from entre- “among” (from Latin inter; see inter-) + tenir “to hold” (from Latin tenere; see tenet).

Sense of “have a guest” is late 15c.; that of “amuse” is 1620s. Meaning “to allow (something) to consideration” (of opinions, notions, etc.) is 1610s. Related: Entertained; entertaining.

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